Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series of stories planned by Cache Valley freelance writer Cindy Knowles based on the idea that everyone has an interesting story to tell. She met Meg and Ted Erekson while visiting the Cache Valley Gardeners’ Market.
Seeing the Ereksons in their matching farmer overalls, you would think, “Hmmm, what an interesting couple. Her colorful crossover purse and yellow Crocs, his long, well-kept beard with rainbow skull cap… they make quite the pair.”
Ted and Meg Erekson call themselves and their website “Nutmeg Company.” He’s the Nut/Story Teller and she is Meg/Artist. Their home tells even more of their story. It’s filled top to bottom with special mugs, books, photos, artwork, nutcrackers, memories and love from top to bottom. Each item is purposeful.
They have always instilled special traditions that hold their family together. While their three children — Ismaael, Izacc and Rachaal — were living at home, they didn’t allow TV. Ted and Meg wanted them to learn to interact together, read piles of books, be creative, play games, have fun, discover art, sing and just plain have family time hanging out together.
Many people gave them TV sets, thinking that the “poor” family couldn’t afford one. They had no idea the parents intentionally avoided owning them.
It all began in 1980s when Ted first met Meg Sundberg at Meier’s Chicken in Holladay, Utah. He had taken a Granite School District community course in meat cutting, and he caught on to it so quickly that they referred him to Meier’s Meat Market for a job opening. Right next door was Meier’s Chicken, still today a famous foodie location for fried chicken.
Ted had long hair at the time, way past his shoulders, and that is how Meg first came to know him by sight. When he got his hair cut short for his Latter-day Saint mission and came over to the chicken place, she didn’t even recognize him.
When he saw Meg it was a done deal. They dated for two very fast weeks before he entered the Missionary Training Center. He kissed her only once and said “I have no problem with you dating other guys and if you find something better, then go for it.”
Meg’s father died while Ted was in the MTC in Provo. He actually got permission to leave the MTC and go to her father’s funeral, which is very unusual, but he didn’t go. Being so twitterpated in love, he knew if he left for that funeral he would never come back. Meanwhile, she had the same premonition about him.
He served for two years in South Africa. They wrote each other every week, but in those days it took two weeks to get a letter by post and another two weeks to get a letter back. A whole month to get an answer to a letter is a long time.
In the meantime, Meg was dating up a storm, and the last six weeks of Ted’s mission she didn’t write any letters, which was very hard for Ted. She was considering marrying another guy she had met in the process. When Ted came home, she and her mother and his entire family did meet him at the airport. After his homecoming and official release from his mission, he asked her mother for Meg’s hand in marriage, and right before the whole family sat down to a dinner to celebrate his release, he took her for a quick ride in the car, where he proposed with an African diamond he had purchased on his mission.
She didn’t know about the purchase and had no clue when he pulled down the sun visor and down dropped her sparkling custom-designed engagement ring on a thin string for the magical reveal. She of course said yes. They have been married 38 years this year.
The young couple did something of a backwards version of married life. They both got jobs, had kids and then decided to go back to school. They chose USU and wound up living at Aggie Village.
Ted worked at the USU Credit Union, and they lived on half an income while he got his degree in business. He wanted to get his master’s and recalls Meg saying, “We are used to being poor now, let’s keep going.”
Meg had their third child with a midwife at home, and the family was complete. But the second degree gave the couple no choice but to incur student-loan debt so Ted could finish, and he did it in one year instead of two. They moved in with Meg’s mom in Holladay so he could finish at the University of Utah.
While feeling deflated looking for a job in Salt Lake City area, Ted got a call from his old USU Credit Union about a job at Cache Valley Bank back in Logan. They packed up and moved back to Cache Valley. They saved and saved for a down payment on their home in Providence and have lived there ever since.
Meg was raised in Holladay and lived in a neighborhood with a few famous people, among them Philo T. Farnsworth, inventor of the television, and Avard Fairbanks, the famous Utah artist.
One time while she was working at the Meier’s Chicken and it was really slow, she started doing drawings on the chicken takeout boxes for the customers. Imagine getting a box of chicken with original artwork on top. Well, in walks Avard Fairbanks — one of her inspirations — to get some takeout chicken.
He said, “Wow! Who is the artist?” She answered, “I am.” He said, “Do you know who I am?” and she said jokingly, “No, do you know who I am?” Avard said nothing in response and she never heard from him again.
Since she was a very young girl, Meg had always been drawing. She got her degree at University of Utah in administrative assistance but didn’t enjoy that career path. Later on, at the age of 45, she went to USU with her children in a few classes together and got her bachelor of fine arts degree in art education. She volunteered to teach art at Spring Creek Middle School. The Norah Eccles Harrison Museum, along with the Utah State Board of Education, helped her obtain grant money as an “artist in residence” teaching at Spring Creek. She got the grant every year after that.
Ted has been a banker on Main Street in Logan for 30 years. His love of professional storytelling has resulted in a book, “My Boy Jesus, Joseph’s Story,” written by Ted and illustrated by Meg.
Ted has some humorous YouTube storytelling videos called “The Befuddled Brothers.” They tell stories about a toilet paper farmer and more. He has been a storyteller at Weber State, Timpanogos Library Festival, and Cache Valley Storytellers. One of his favorite stories to tell is his own version of “The Wizard of Oz.”
Ted was a church bishop on the USU campus. He and Meg have welcomed many students of many cultures to their home, which they describe as a “safe place for all people.”
The Ereksons’ grandkids love to come to their home for fun, crafting and storytelling, and Ted has nicknames with a South African vibe for all of their nine grandchildren: Toad, Yetti, Og, Bonobo, Okapi, Dragon, Jaguar, and Quokka.
Ted and Meg do canning together and store up vegetables and fruits from their terraced garden. In the basement cool room over the huge cement sink, they hung chicken wire on the ceiling to dry all the herbs. The only thing that makes gardening difficult are the deer.
“The deer are like big rats. They eat and destroy everything, pansies, cherry tree leaves, tulip bulbs, cabbage, broccoli and more,” Ted says.
Among the Erekson family traditions are annual Christmas dinners where they they try different kinds of meat, such as yak, iguana, turtle, reindeer, octopus, shark, coypu, bugs, guinea pig, wildebeest and armadillo.
Everything the “Nutmegs” display in their home is a reflection of their creativity and talents. They say their hope is to share joy and happiness with all of those around them.